We had a look into Microsoft Windows 8 last week but in the Rugged market we do have a fair few Android devices now so I wanted to spend the next few blogs writing a series about Android in the Rugged Market. Starting today we’ll look at Android and why we’re seeing it appear here, the versions and an overview of some manufacturers who are adopting it. We’ll then look at Android in more depth as an OS, ask ourselves the question as to whether it’s a good thing to run Rugged Android PDA’s and tablets and lastly have a refresh of devices that are current, rugged and running Android!
I’m going to be honest with you all. I’m not a fan of Android, but not because at heart I’m still a Microsoft bod in a largely Microsoft Rugged world. I actually love the new OS from a programming and development perspective, just like I do IOS, PIC and Arduino where we’re even using these techs for KIOSK style projects we’re running right now, but from a strategic point of view it is going to rattle our market and I don’t like customers being confused! With Windows 8 coming this will make matters worse, blurring lines further and with a lot of confusion in our market already it can be seen as agood and bad thing. More choice means it’s going to be harder to keep up the expertise and make sure our clients get the right kit.
So just how is Android entering the Rugged Market? We take 3 perspectives below:
Customers Driving Android
People are adopting Android and also want rugged kit. However the key here has actually been that we’re seeing people don’t want actual “Rugged” kit, they just want it supported so they can still have their 2 or 3 year life with it. So everything we stand for in the rugged market is going to be tested unless we can adopt some kind of way of delivering a roadmap to customers on less rugged kit maybe. This is the first area that we see as the challenge for Rugged Androids and we’re already seeing some burnt fingers due to this.
This will bring customers and resellers closer to manufacturers though as innovation and keeping current will need far better focus.
Manufacturers Driving Android
Some are dabbling, just sticking their toe in if you like, and we’re seeing 1 or 2 devices from Motorola (Thought they were Android now??). Some eastern and largely unknown to the UK manufacturers have decent rugged Android strategies too and there are some non-rugged manufacturers like Mitac who are newly entering the rugged market with proper rugged tablets and PDA’s. Some rugged manufacturers however like Pidion are really adopting Android though, putting it central to their strategy on all there PDA’s and having a string clear roadmap for new devices whilst committing to an OS version to support. I think this strategy is good, but I’m also not sure if they will be able to deliver it if I’m being frank. Even Android books are useless just 3 months after you buy them, so doing it on a piece of hardware designed to last for 3-5 years is a challenge!
I think Manufactruers are largely just supplying the “tin” right in an a response to the customer need. A lot will happen here though.
Resellers driving Android
It’s easy to find, adopt and change Android kit and then stand by your own kit. Why sell someone elses when you see things so clearly and can deliver everything yourself? So that’s one driver we’re seeing right now. Sure the communities will be smaller and the support could be seen as putting your eggs into 1 basket but isn’t “Niche” where it’s all going right now as larger manufacturers only prove how rubbish they are anyway so why is a small reseller dedicated to your technology any worse? This will get more and more prevalent I’ll tell you that for free! I think the tin shifters will start to get unstuck as they realise they can’t pedal Everything at low prices whilst giving customers what they need. Some will cope by dedicating themselves to an OS technology but I think good resellers will learn the technology, adopt it and deliver a great agnostic Experience whether on Android, Microsoft or whatever.
Android V’s whatever!
The truth is we’re already seeing the hardware become nothing but a brand choice as it all does the same, comes form the same technology and factories and all does it as well. Android as a technology can’t be ignored but I think we’re going to have to get to grips with it as a strategy and solution. We’ll see a Microsoft and Android divide in the rugged market but at the same time customers will demand the ability to flick at whim between the Two.
I personally think these will be really exciting times. We definitely have a string Android strategy here, are selling both hardware and solutions already and we definitely have a few changes and bog decisions to make later this year but as long as we put the customer at the centre of this and continue to serve them, it’s all good in the hood as far as I’m concerned.
We’ll continue the series all week…
The Rugged and Mobile blog.